After previewing the players who are coming back for one final season in Tallahassee, we move to the next class: the Seniors. These four players came in as freshmen in 2020 and have since spent two full seasons playing for the Florida State softball team. All players will have the 2023 season, as well as an extra year due to shortened COVID-19 season.
In 2022, Devyn Flaherty posted her best season yet for the Garnet and Gold. The All-ACC second team player flew under the radar but put up very impressive numbers. Starting all 61 games, Flaherty proved that she is one of the most consistent players in the country. With the third best batting average on the team last season at .355, she had 186 plate appearances.
In the beginning of the season, she sat in the bottom three of the lineup. As the season grew on, Flaherty moved up the middle of the batting order. Her .406 on base percentage was 4th best on the team, while tying for the team lead in hits at 66. Once on base, Flaherty was a sure bet to steal a bag. She led the team in stolen bases with 26 successful attempts in 29 tries.
After coming off a stellar Women’s College World Series in 2021, Kaley Mudge became the ‘Noles resident lead off hitter, as well as left fielder. In her Junior season, she posted her best season yet, increasing her statistics in every category.
Second on the team in batting average at .358, she also was second in hits with 63. In her previous seasons, she has not put the ball out of the park, however last season she flexed the long ball with 4 home runs on the year, bringing a new aspect to her game. When putting the ball in play, she was able to utilize her speed. Three triples counted as the best for the ‘Noles, while she also gave the team 13 stolen bases, only being caught 5 times.
Defensively, she is the only player, who posted the most starts, to have a perfect fielding percentage. Her time in left field contributed to the team's nation leading fielding percentage.
In 2021, Kaia LoPreste only played in 19 games, starting 5. In her brief appearances, she came in as a pinch hitter, providing power off the bench. At the plate, LoPreste tallied 4 hits, 1 double, 1 RBI, and 3 walks bringing her batting average to .211.
Freshman year, in 2020 was LoPreste’s best year as a Seminole, batting .304 in 20 games. That year she served as the primary catcher after the injury to Anna Shelnutt. LoPreste capitalized on the opportunity during the shortened season as she drove in 8 runs, hit 5 doubles, 1 home run, and reached on 2 walks.
T6 5-2 FSU | RBI! Kaia LoPreste lines the first pitch of her AB off the wall in center for an RBI double! pic.twitter.com/MbbDvRzNwY— Florida State Softball (@FSU_Softball) February 29, 2020
Lastly, Emma Wilson will also return for the pitching staff. In 2022, Wilson appeared in 20 games, mostly in relief, and made 9 starts. Going 2-0 on the season, she ended the year with a 3.78 ERA, keeping opposing batters to a .252 batting average. During her 33.1 innings pitched, she tallied one save, 32 hits, 21 runs, 12 walks, and 20 strikeouts.
During the season, Wilson struck out a career high of three during the game against FIU. In addition, she combined with Kathryn Sandercock to throw a no hitter against UCF, recording the final three outs.
For this group, fans can hope to see Mudge back patrolling left field in 2023. The versatility of her batting can keep her at the top of the lineup, or move her down to the 9 spot. Given what she showed last season, she should return to the top spot.
Flaherty’s position at second base this past season showed how solid she is on the right side of the infield, not much should change for her. Regarding her spot in the lineup, she could stay in the middle of the order in 2023. Her ability to hit consistently and steal bases, not only gives her greater RBI opportunities but gives her team a chance to bring her home as well.
LoPreste is a name to watch for the designated hitter role if it ever becomes open in 2023. If not, she has proven throughout her time as a Seminole that she can provide power off of the bench and put a runner on base, or bring someone home that’s sitting in scoring position.
Wilson’s arm provides an option out of the bullpen, mostly to close out a game if needed. She saw great starts last season, only going two innings at a time during those starts. Her spin on the ball gives a different look from other pitchers on the staff, where Sandercock specifically throws lower in the zone to induce ground outs. Wilson can start a game, giving opposing batters a hard, spin pitcher. In relief, she can execute outs toward the end of a ball game, once again providing a different pitching style.